Monthly Archives: January 2017

Lessons From Anne Frank

How many of you read Anne Frank growing up? How many of you cried? How many of you wondered how such atrocities could be allowed to happen? How many of you wondered how so many people could turn their backs on the suffering of others?

Well, if you are against helping the refugees, look in the mirror, and all of those questions will be answered. And Anne Frank’s death becomes meaningless.

Did you know that Otto Frank, Anne’s father, tried desperately to get his family somewhere out of reach of the Nazis, and that included trying to reach America? But because Americans were suspicious of Jewish people and increasingly hostile to foreigners, they were denied entry.

No Asylum, now available on Amazon Prime, is a documentary that tells the story of Mr. Frank’s vain efforts to escape with his family to the US. The most horrifying part of this is that originally the Nazis did not want to kill Jewish people. They wanted them out of their lands. But when other countries that weren’t under Nazi control refused to take them in, then they started to execute Jewish people en mass. This has chilling implications for our time.

I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that we can look back on tragedies and honor the people who suffered them by learning from what happened and standing firm while proclaiming, “never again!”

Fortunately, as evidenced by the protests, I believe a lot of people took the lessons of the Holocaust to heart and found meaning in something horrible. This is why Otto Frank spent the last years of his life promoting Anne’s diary, and when we take action we honor his commitment and Anne Frank’s memory, as well as the memory of the 6 million other people, Jews, Roma, LGBT, the disabled, and others, who died. This is where we say never again.

I will be Miep Gies. I will be Johannes Kleiman. I will be Victor Kugler. I will be Bep Voskuijl.

How Fast Liberty Dies

Right now I am in shock at just how quickly Trump’s war on liberty is advancing. I feared it would happen, but I foolishly thought it would advance over a period of months. I did not imagine it would be this bad a week out. The assaults on liberty are numerous that before I can write on one, another happens.

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Undocumented Workers and the Availability Heurestic

There’s a lot going on this week that is alarming. The news that Trump is planning to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by undocumented workers is one of them. As someone with a background in psychology, let me explain.

You know how flying an airplane is the safest way to travel but people think it’s dangerous or get nervous flying? Well, the reason is because of the availability heuristic. We think airplanes crashes are common because when they happen, we hear them about them on the news, when in actually, airplanes crashes are rare, which is why they make the news. Meanwhile, car crashes which are extremely common and happen everyday, don’t make the news and people don’t worry about getting into a car, even though it is the most dangerous thing each of us will do on a daily basis.

When I was teaching psychology I would have my students raise their hand if they’d ever been in a car accident versus a plane crash. Most would raise their hand for car crash, but no one had ever been in a plane crash. Even with this, my students would still have a hard time accepting that planes were safe because they could all remember hearing about plane crashes on the news, and not car crashes.

Now, the data tells us that undocumented workers are no more likely to commit crimes than other people, and that they don’t bring waves of crime into the US. Yet if Trump publishes a weekly list singling out undocumented workers, well, think about this in the context of the availability heuristic and put two and two together.

Here it is spelled out. The list goes out, people here about it on a weekly basis, so contrary to what statistics and other evidence tells us, people think undocumented workers cause more crime than they do, and you basically build a scapegoat. Undocumented workers don’t cause crime. The causes of crime are complex and stem from multiple sources. Creating scapegoats will not do anything about crime, but it will create a vulnerable group of people for others to target their anger at.

Bottom line, this is wrong, and the consequences are horrendous to contemplate on.

Ted Cruz Refuses to See Constituents

Yesterday, 28 constituents, tired of being unable to leave messages with Senator Cruz, visited his office to talk with him directly. Not only were they denied permission to see him, go into his office, or talk with his staffers, but they called police to ask them to leave the property. You can see the video here.

After they left, Cruz actually shut down his office for the day.

I later learned that this is not the first time Cruz has shut constituents out of his office.

This is only feeding my belief that my government does not care about my voice or what I think and does not represent me. And that elected officials are doing this is extremely concerning to me. It indicates they feel they do not need to answer to the people.

I have major phone anxiety, but I have been calling my representatives, begging them not to confirm Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary. Among many things, she has stated she feels whether to implement IDEA, which is what guarantees children with disabilities and education, should be left to the states. This is done in the so-called name of school choice. Yet private voucher schools don’t have to accept children with disabilities. So what sort of choice is that for families like my own?

Even with IDEA, schools in Texas try to do as little as possible for children with disabilities. They were actually investigated by the Feds at the end of last year for putting illegal caps on how many children could be diagnosed with a disability. I have no doubt that if it is up to the states whether or not to enforce IDEA, then my son’s right to an education goes out the window.

While Buddy is not currently in public school, we are hoping to get there with him someday. And the thought that we may not have that option scares me. Further, I actually care about families with children with disabilities who can’t afford/don’t have the training to pursue alternative methods and will be left with nothing if public schools refuse to take their children.

And bluntly, Cruz’s actions are telling me he does not care what I think and about families like mine. This is not the behavior any elected official should adhere to. The people of Texas are paying his salary and for his office. We deserve to be heard.

I Marched

 

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Today I marched. I marched in my local city.

It was cathartic. And it was so encouraging to see thousands of other people there in a deep red part of my deep red state. There were sister marches all over in neighboring cities, several only 30 minutes to an hour away, and this march was organized in under a week, but still they estimated about 6,000 to 8,000 people were there.

This is not the end. Everyone there knew it was the beginning. And already people on the marches Facebook group are acknowledging that we need to form a permanent advocacy group for the area.

But today, I don’t feel so alone in my red state.

Reviving the Vaccine “Debate” Will Not Help Families With Autistic Members

One of the multiple problematic things happening in our government is Trump appointing Robert F. Kennedy Jr, an anti-vaxxer who believes there is a conspiracy to hide the effects of thimerosal on children, to chair a panel on vaccine safety and to revive the “debate” on vaccine safety. As the parent of an autistic child, this angers and worries me.

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When People Feel Ignored

On Friday, a group of volunteers from Planned Parenthood visited Paul Ryan’s office to hand deliver over 87,000 signatures asking Ryan to not defund Planned Parenthood. Not only did Ryan refuse to see them, but he sent six armed security guards down to prevent them from even delivering the petition.

This is the message I am getting from Ryan: I don’t give a damn.

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